Turning hopelessness into action: Narrative responses to the late-2018 political context by Tiffany Sostar

This video describes a series of narrative responses to the hopelessness, despair, and fear felt by some community members in late 2018, in response to:

the Kavanaugh hearings and confirmation; anti-trans legislation and sentiment being introduced in America (and parallel rhetoric in Canada); anti-woman legislation and sentiment; anti-immigrant legislation and sentiment; ongoing colonialism and white supremacy; rising fascism; and more…


These narrative responses included collective document creation, discussion groups, letter-writing campaigns, and a focus on invitations to solidarity and to collective action. Importantly, these narrative responses did not include a resistance to hopelessness, despair, or fear. These states may be unwelcome, but they also offer information about what is important, and what is at risk.


Tiffany Sostar is a white settler on Treaty 7 land in what is currently called Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Tiffany is a narrative therapist and community organiser in the bi+, trans, polyamorous, neuroqueer/neurodivergent, and disabled communities. They are particularly interested in collective narrative practice, and in helping marginalized communities tell their stories in ways that invite collective action, community care, and solidarity across difference.


Further reading: 

  • You can find the letter to Dr. Ford which was generated through Tiffany’s project here 
  • The Letters of Support to the Trans Community document can be found here 
Published on 30 November 2018. 

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Craig Behenna

    Hi Tiffany, I watched your video several times as I came to the crunch of my own narrative innovation project. Your commitment to community was important to me and led me to consider my own questioning and letterwriting with a new way of seeing and a new intent. And you coined what I had also been finding in my conversations (with actors and artists) – that it was important to allow full space to discuss difficult states, and through that discussion, discover doorways of action that allow us to see what’s important and identify the WHY of acting. Thanks so much, from Adelaide

  2. Gene Combs

    Hi Tiffany

    I just watched your video. It deepened my understanding of how to work with hopelessness when it knocks on my own door and that of others. Thanks a bunch.

    1. Tiffany Sostar

      Hi Gene,

      Thank you for this comment! Your and Jill’s work has been so meaningful in my own practice. If you ever want to chat about hopelessness, or if you have ideas about furthering this work (which feels very embryonic), I would be so interested!

  3. Kitty Thatcher

    Your video has really made an impression on me, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Your reflection about weaponized positivity and the neoliberal admonishment to “do something” in the face of hopelessness for me really highlights the paradoxes of engaging in activism in late stage capitalism. We have weoponized positivity on the one hand and the way we are expected to respond is often to demonize (or weaponize!) hopelessness… like your sister said, in all that it is the capacity to see people as they are that is lost. As you guys wrote in your letter to Dr Ford”: What’s clear has been the value of “holding on to integrity”, of acting despite knowing the result might not be what one hopes for. Sending lots of love and solidarity from Santiago, Chile.

    1. Tiffany Sostar

      Hi Kitty,

      Thank you so much for this comment! These paradoxes of engagement are so real, and so thorny. I would love to hear if you have any further ideas or if you’d be interested in chatting about this.

      I was really inspired by the #EducaciónNoSexista movement that happened in Chile last year, and would be so interested in hearing about any ripple of effects of that action.

      Returning all that love and solidarity! Tiffany

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